REFLECTION " THEATRE OF RELEVANCE" WORKSHOP IN CHANDIGARH

Manjul’s Theatre of Relevance





1. Theatre of relevance initiates the process of Self Awareness in the participants. The method used by Manjul is “showing a mirror” to each individual. He observes and mirrors the gestures, body movements, speech and through these brings forth the associated beliefs and doubts. This is discomfiting to the person in the beginning; the individual resists and is not willing to accept his / her weaknesses. Manjul immediately refers to the socialization practices behind the dysfunctional schemas, and the resulting inhibitions and insecurities. This showed his acceptance and non judgmental attitude towards the shortcomings in each person. This approach puts the participants at ease with themselves. The awareness of their expression of doubts and insecurities through non-verbal and verbal behaviour initiated a process of change in the participants. The foremost action they take is to make conscious efforts to change their overt behaviour. A deeper change and disturbance also starts at the cognitive level. Each participant made conscious efforts to bring a change in their gestures, postures and doing away with ‘should’, ‘must’, ‘no’ in their self statements. This happened with the realization of unnecessary load of doubtful, negative and ambiguous expressions and thoughts.


2. For inhibition shedding, spontaneous situations, were created and anecdotes were enacted. It generated inquisitiveness and further self exploration in the participants. They expressed, shared their thoughts and opinions. Shared experiences stimulated compassion, acceptance of self and others in the group. Theatre of relevance truly creates a therapeutic situation. One realizes the power of Creative arts. The shy participants gradually emerge from their cocoons, enjoy the freedom and are empowered.


3. Manjul’s emphasis on the present, here and now, doesn’t allow space and time to dwell on the past problems; rather he holds the focus of each individual on the present process of awareness and change. Manjul really holds the attention of each individual.


4. The emphasis of theatre of relevance is on self-identity and self esteem. This is the base of confidence and self efficacy. The slogan “HUM HEIN” conveys this powerful message. Our potential can be truly tapped if we accept, love and respect ourselves. The freedom of expression proves to be cathartic and empowering for the individual.





5. The participants learn to create and feel the space. The urge to experiment and think differently is encouraged. Scripts are written and enacted. Ideas are dwelled upon. Creativity is acknowledged and appreciated. Belief in one’s potential is strengthened. This spreads gaiety, cheer and bonding in the group.


6. The experience of space and dimensions of the stage is given. The physical exercises, sounds and body movements bring harmony between the body movements, speech, gestures and expression. This is important because this harmony is disturbed due to stage fright. The natural and spontaneous harmony is thus created. The transformation of each individual to a performer is amazing.


7. Manjul creates sensitive audience too. After each performance or expression, he asks each member of audience to respond to that. This initiated the process of acknowledgment of talent in other individuals.



The message of TOR: Acknowledge and appreciate the individual differences. Be aware of your strengths, reach out to others, appreciate their talent, connect with all, feel the natural harmony and enjoy the blissful life.





Renu Somal 27.12.2010

















'Ek Nayi Udaan': workshop on Theatre of Relevance for students
Post grad. Govt. College for Girls -11
Chandigarh
9-18th November 2010.
Conducted by: Manjul Bhardwaj, founder, Experimental Theatre Foundation, Mumbai.
'All the world's a stage...'

Dear students,
Welcome to this Theatre of Relevance workshop, where you will learn to soar high on newly discovered wings of awareness, enthusiasm and change. Theatre is a powerful, enabling medium that brings to the fore latent aspects of your creativity, giving flight to your imagination and freeing you from the inhibitions and limitations that hamper self-growth.
Through this 10-day course, you will actively participate in unmasking and understanding your true self through theatre. You will also learn to perceive others in a new light with empathy and objectivity. The overall aim is self- development and initiating change towards a more equal, humane society, by rising above prejudices and stereotypes.
"I see theatre as being relevant to the context of society and one that owes a social responsibility. It’s not just art for art sake but one that caters to human needs and provides a platform for expression.”--Manjul Bhardwaj.
The methodology for the course is experience-based learning in which you, the participants, will act as the resource, creating a theatre of your own in a 'theatre lab.', facilitating learning through experiencing, owning, experimenting, internalizing, applying, strengthening and sustaining ideas and concepts about yourselves and the world. “We in society recite the potential of Theatre, but very rarely experience a theatrical performance through direct participation. As spectators of a play, we are impressed by a performance, but by directly participating in it, the experience & impression leads to a change in our personality, attitude & value”.
Since in this kind of workshop, the process of self- experience is most important, there will be flexibility –and surprises! - In terms of the content of each day's session. However, the tentative framework is as follows:
Day 1: Introductions; getting to know each other; discussions of issues of 'relevance' to you
Days 2-3: Embarking on the journey of self- discovery; ' from pen- to paper to stage'
Days 4-5: Verbalizing and scripting one's truth; getting the 'feel' of the stage
Days 6-7: Exploring deeper within oneself; practicing stagecraft
Days 8-9: Letting flow the fountains of creative self-expression through techniques of theatre; rehearsing
Day10: Presenting the 'Nayee Udaan'


“Theatre of Relevance”

Workshop

“Ek Nai Udaan”
9-18
PGGCG- Sector 11, Chandigarh


Techniques / styles used by Manjul Bhardwaj

• Induced introspection
• Breaking inhibition by involving and accepting each student, participant/ individual as a fellow being & not based on gender
• Expressing love for a fellow being without defining any boundaries

Cognition

• Identifying the distorted behavior – self concept and perception for other i.e. self scheme and schemes about others and making the individual aware about the distortion by providing different perspectives
• Vocabulary usage i.e. should, must over take self & limit oneself : making conversation in present tense .i.e. here & now
• Providing platform to express
• Sensitizing about “conditioning” and judgmental ( right & wrong) attitude and environment
• Conveying and understanding the meaning of “ freedom”( without inhibitions ) and valuing each person
• Acknowledgement & appreciation of freedom to enjoy and live every moment
• Body language – one of the important communication tool
• Eye contact indicates openness and confidence
• Truth is not absolute, understanding truth from all dimensions ( sensitizing about different dimensions of truth )
• Experimentation for discovery not to be afraid of hurdles & failures
• Laboratory of life
• Focus on identity : HUM HAIN













Accommodation & assimilation processes

Visible impact on students
• Resistance seen in many students
• Inhibitions
• Excitement for a different exposure & different perspective
• Questions on gender awareness
• Simarn : “ witnessed someone openly challenging social structure”
• Experiencing feelings & thoughts
• Some fears of the participants revealed
• Cathartic
• Therapeutic
• Promoted positive attitude


Theatre workshop for teachers

• Exploring & discovering one’s potential
• Facilitated creativity
• Visualizing , thinking , planning & writing the script
• Neurolinguistic : no problem, but etc
• Identifying self doubts
• Motivated participants to verbalize thoughts & create a picture with human resource and viewing the theme
• Theatre concretizes the abstract
• Facilitated the realization to enjoy & live each & every moment
• Clarifying perception through gestures, small pauses, questioning & repetition of words. Also realized how an individual is selective in information processing
• Acknowledgement of goodness, art & qualities. Experiencing the sheer joy!
• Each formation was thematic. The experience of creating a formation with available human resource was a satisfying experience











Formation Theme

• Joy
• Celebration of freedom
• Women holding family
• Wave – continuity
• Space within space
• Birds – Udaan
• Lightening
• Roohani sukun – soul satisfaction
• Waiting for miracle


Reflections:

The workshop for the students was interesting and enriching experience not only for the students but also for me since I spent three hours every day watching Manjul work with them. The process was indeed one of the subtle suggestions, persuasiveness, discovering, revealing, realizing and wanting to change. Each girl blossomed in her own way. The quite ones who sat on the periphery the first day moved to the centre stage on the 3rd or 4th day. On the day of presentation one of them had written the script and performed the lead role. On the presentation day there was no stopping them. They just learnt to go out & on. The new found & acquired confidence, the motivation and clarity of thoughts & actions & internalization of the lessons learnt in the workshop was amazing – a total transformation. Manjul Brought out the reserve potential in these young girls and made them aware of themselves & their “Identity”. Identity, self worth and decision making were the conceptual aspect of this workshop. I must say that these ten days made all this possible.

Dr Jyoti Seth – Prof- Sociology PGCG sector 42, Chandigarh (10-19 Sept, 2010)


Manjul Bhardwaj is an institution in himself - one man organization or perhaps a crusader of change. The process of the workshop is thoughtfully evolved and Manjul works according to the needs of the participants. I often called him a psychologist and the richness of his experience & expertise are amazing. Keep up the great work Manjul!

Dr Jyoti Seth











Theatre workshop for Teachers

It was a motley group of about 13 teachers from the PG government college for girls, sector 42 (including two teachers from PGGCG sector 11) who assembled expectantly on day 1 of the workshop. Most knew each other and some among them were good friends; they taught different subjects- science, Hindi, Punjabi, English, sociology & physical education. It was definitely women dominated group with just two male participants, one of whom dropped out after first day- he mistakenly thought it was going to be a sociology workshop. (Well, in a way it was for Manjul Bhardwaj `s Theatre of Relevance has much to do with sociology in a practical sense)

The first two days were spent in exploring ideas and themes for the workshop. Since the majority of the participants were at a stage in life where they were well settled in their professions, their children grown up etc., the questions uppermost in their minds were “Where do we go from here? What do we visualize our lives ahead to be?”

The workshop thus became a journey of self exploration, replete with reveries, flash backs and interior monologues. Each participant was a mirror, in which each saw reflected an aspect of themselves- their lives, dilemmas, solutions, and their search for space, meaning, friendships & creativity in their lives.

The third day saw the deepening their acquaintance with Theatre of Relevance. They also became aware of their own ‘idiolects’- the words they use, unthinkingly – for example “no problem”. They learnt that they could easily replace all these with positive words and therefore send out positives messages to themselves & others.

The participants were then thrown in, literally at the deep end- Garbh a script in Hindi (shuddh, highly literary Hindi) was given to the participants to read and enact. After the initial trepidation & false starts, the participants spilt into groups and presented brief enactments of the script. Each group then commented on the other- these were pleasant surprises of liberal compliments being showered on all, which gave further boost to everyone’s confidence.

By the middle of the workshop the participants had begun penning their own scripts, based on the ‘MILLY (Most innovative lesson learnt yesterday- term coined by Manjul) that each wrote & read out. One of the participant’s poetic compositions became the theme song of sorts- milly to tu pehele bhi thi sakhi, par aaj milly to aise milly! The scripts that emerged were a potent mix of individual thoughts, feelings, experiences (both of the workshop & of life) and the play Garbh!

At the same time, the workshop was making the participants delve into their inner selves to remove the blocks- largely emotional that they were weighed down with. The ‘mirrors’ finally began to speak the voice of truth, unclouded by the fog of pretence or felling of ‘how do I look?’ What will the other think of me?’

Exercises focusing on trust & collectivity held the group together as a cohesive unit. There was no trace of unhealthy competition or rivalry that could easily mar the collaborative spirit.

The workshop concluded with a presentation by the participants in front of an audience of the entire college staff. It was heartening to see the spontaneous appreciation &b applause- their co – workers were quite taken a back by this expressive new aspects of their own fraternity!

Iqbal Judge – Prof and participant of the workshop, PGCG sector 42, Chandigarh (10-19 Sept, 2010)

Milly...9th…from the time we decided to perform!
I spoke with Mani (our Principal) that we would not want to perform in front of the students, I put it like this,” it should be students’ day; we should not stand with them on the same platform.” I convinced her that it is a students’ show and should remain thus.

I remember having voiced out that my purpose was to enjoy the workshop, to have a peep into the theatre world and I had learnt that this too works from inside out! It was a good learning and that was all. I would want stop at that. Even to Manjul and Jyoti I said the same, I think I did tell Harvinder and others too. I also learnt that Harvinder was willing to give a performance, though I secretly felt we should not perform at all.(fear of social ridicule!?) But the spirit of ‘flowing with the flow’ encouraged me!
So, it initially came as a surprise to myself when I added a dialogue to my script…. mujhe dharti ki tarah ghoomna hai maryada ke sooraj ke ird gird par mein azaad hoon apne axis ke around bhi ghoomne ke lyaee….kal maein chand ka who tukra pee gayee! Later I added kal aasmaan ke katorae se chand ka wo tukra..! mein pee gayee usko.. aur aasman ne hass ke kaha…it became still modified to…. aur saaree kayanaat ne has ke kaha…..milly to tuh pehle bhi thi sakhi!
I could include rest of the team into this last act of my part; they gathered in a tight circle to form Sun while I revolved around like the earth and then on the suggestion of one of the participants, they all became the various planets revolving around themselves enjoying their freedom, symbolically letting their hair down, finding their own freedom, being a part of the cosmos, enjoying the oneness of all…. people, places and things! The base of this was Manjul’s play Garbh! …replete with wonderful and diverse ideas, though we could pick up only a little!
Initially when I took my part from Iqbal’s script, she gave me the character of Neha, I tried to change it because I could not relate to the episodes she had written, some I could, with slight change (which I had taken her permission to do so) and some I changed entirely. I enacted that and felt slightly uncomfortable, the individual episodes were very fine but something seemed odd, I became willing to change and the thought came that it would be wonderful to try and get into another character and enact those feelings, next day Iqbal shared that my changed script was showing a very balanced person who actually doesn’t need the healing ….there it was ! I got my answer and felt grateful that this had been pointed out! With humility I accepted what Iqbal had said, agreed that I have to portray a very irritated and tired woman who undergoes a change as the theatre workshop unfolds! There was no looking back then and I tried being that, it took some good practice and I enjoyed playing this character according to Iqbal’s script. Felt grateful for Iqbal and made it a point to convey this to her.
This brought me to look at the beauty of other characters too. Could observe the positives in all my co-players, it was a lovely exercise! A new bonding grew among us, Iqbal’s talent of script-writing and attempt at exhibiting fluid body movements was amazing; Jyoti’s spontaneity in juggling, planning, coordinating and fitting in was commendable; Sapna’s whole hearted participation despite initial withdrawal took me by a very pleasant surprise; Rewa understood herself so well and was so lovingly honest; Harvinder’s innocence made me feel compassion and admiration for her; Kiran’s courage became an example for great learning; Sonia’s intelligence , her dedication was worth emulating; Kitty was such a willing and open-minded participant; Gunit surprised us all with her promptness and her confidence ! Each one had very meaningful inputs to give. RamNiwas Yadav could not join us but we kept him updated; just in case he decides to join in … doors were open even till the last scene when the Kamla’s song was sung! He and this other fresher colleague will always remain in our memory!
Wish to thank Manjul for possessing the amazing quality of encouraging the learners to be themselves; for having a very sharp sense of observation and for beautifully bringing out the best in each one of his shishyaas!
I salute the Artist in Manjul Bhardwaj!
Upvinder 5th Oct’2010









Dr Renu Somal – Associate Professor, PGGCG, Sector 11, Chandigarh

Day -1


“Creativity is with in me. I have to explore it, feel it & realize it.” This is what I experienced when I created a formation within seconds. The opportunity that I got to use human resource and create a picture on the stage excited me. Many thoughts raced my mind. “I have an opportunity at hand. I have an enjoyable task at my hand. How do I make use of such precious resource?” I was not allowed to use any words, the usual verbal communication to convey my thoughts and yet I have to paint my picture. The realization that there are many more powerful tools within my grasp to convey my message to my friends & audience dawned on me. I had a quick glance at my friends, Iqbal, Jyoti, Dilbagh, Anita, Shammi, Summati, Upvinder, Abha, and Rewa & Amrut. With my both hands I gestured to all to go on stage and create a picture. As we reached the stage, I wanted to celebrate this moment of togetherness with my friends.

The poised calm of Iqbal, vivaciousness of Jyoti, unspoken solidarity of Dilbagh, sweet smile of Anita, freshness of Summati, Upvinder`s grace, Abbha`s innocence, Shammi`s expectations, Rewa`s reflective mood & Amrut`s bubbling energy inspired me to share my joy , my happiness of that moment with them. Dance , Music, rhythm came to my mind when I thought of painting ‘joy’ on the canvas of stage with my friends.


‘Gidda, Kikli,’ the folk dances which are group celebrations of happy moments, occasions of togetherness were my spontaneous choices. My friends caught on & in the same flow and rhythm of my message. Each one of us danced, spread out and took the position of Kikli. If the world is the stage, then we are here to paint the picture of joy with our fellow beings!


How “Theatre of Relevance” process create artistes, play wrights, directors, performers and Human beings!

“Theatre of Relevance”, I prefer to call it Manjul’s theatre. It starts with the ‘individual’. The ‘self’, progresses with the ‘self’ towards the path of self discovery, self realization, divergent thinking and creativity. The vast avenues, styles, beauty in diverse situations and human beings, which one was not aware of , suddenly that beauty and meaning starts unfolding layer after layer.

I can see the visible change in the students with each day & infect on each day. I am becoming more perceptive and aware of my thought process and it seems things are falling in place. The right moment- I am experiencing – the present- The present moment `s JOY and experience is special.

I have always believed that with age individual grows more beautiful as experience enriches the mind. The conviction of the belief has become stronger now with Manjul’s special magical touch.

I have appreciated one to one interactions and same level interactions which participants are indulged in the process of “Theatre of Relevance”. I observe closely Manjul everyday doing that with each one of us and with each student. This gives the rightful recognition, appreciation to each individual and creates expression in all, and when these individual expressions flows in the space and acquire the collective experience and shapes/manifests itself into the audience it becomes an “ART”. He creates and shapes an appreciative audience too when he asks each person to respond to the other’s expression of thoughts & feelings.

The best part is that he sensitizes to feel the pulse of harmony that is present in nature, rather creates a situation that enables us to realize that harmony.

Observant and perceptive human beings acknowledge and appreciate themselves and their fellow beings. The seed of creativity thus sown. The inner urge, the fire is kindled. Energy wrapped up in layers now emerges, an artist is born, who writes, performs and directs. The realization that, “I create”. “I enjoy my creation” is bliss.


By Dr Renu Somal – Associate Professor, PGGCG, Sector 11, Chandigarh


First & foremost Manjul’s theatre & his skills create awareness of self and others. For self awareness, he shows each person a mirror by exactly pointing out and mimicking the gestures, body movements, speech and habits. This seems to be unsettling and uncomfortable in the beginning for the participants 9 student or teacher). Very soon the individual becomes conscious of that particular action or gesture and goes on to make conscious effort to change that repetitive gesture or dysfunctional habit. That is how the process of change starts. As it deepens the insecurities and un-sureties are usually expressed through our overt behavior i. e. the expressions, body movement, speech, the process for awareness of these is initiated at a deeper level in the context of dysfunctional schemes.

Manjul’s inspiration and emphasis on the present, here & now does allow space & time to dwell on those earlier problems rather holds the focus of each individual on the present process of awareness and change.

Manjul then works on the ‘inhibitions’ which starts the growth of a person. He works on the confidence building not through lecture but through demonstration, spontaneous innovation, by creating situations and enacting anecdotes then & there. This is what makes Manjul’s theatre so special & engrossing.

He cultivates & shapes good audience. After a performance, he asks each member of audience to respond. This starts the process of development through audience’s expectations of appreciation of the creativity in others. Individuals who will make an effort to carry this learning further in their lives will be positive in their interaction and learn to have a positive self regard and a positive regards for others.

Then comes the time for the process of creativity. Manjul’s strong belief and experience in touching the inner creative self & unfolds it was there for all of us to see & experience.
We were given the human resource and asked to paint a picture on stage. Initial confusion very soon changed into experimentation and then into creative ideas.

Each of us wrote our scripts on each formation. Scripts were read out, dwelled upon. Creative ideas & craft of writing were acknowledged & appreciated.

Finally with Manjul’s coaching and pushing we went on to stage to enact. That has been a special experience. He facilitated us to experience the space and dimensions of the stage in a group. The physical exercises, sound and voice exercises and body movements were practiced to bring harmony between the body movements, speech, gestures, emotions & expressions. This was really significant because this balance is disturbed when we go on stage & are under the scrutiny by the audience. Manjul has created that natural & spontaneous harmony in each performer. The transformation of each individual to a performer on the stage is amazing. A beautiful message for all of us- acknowledge , accept and express yourself and then connect to the fellow beings or the audience and this connection is called the ART.


How “Theatre of Relevance” process create artistes, play wrights, directors, performers and Human beings!

Through ‘TOR’ I discovered that all human beings have innate quality of expression and can put it in writing and performance. Prior to joining TOR workshop I was only an admirer of theatre and other performing arts and had a hidden desire to perform.

TOR developed the awareness of this fact and then through various methods of self discovery polished our hidden talents and gave us strength and courage to be ‘me’ and unfolded the beauty of self expression.

A simple day to day happening when performed through heart moves the audience and the audience laughs & cries with you. I have lived these moments here. I am indebted to Manjul for this and shall keep on enjoying the unfolding of myself.

During this process of awareness to action, reaction, response and then to awakening bring the performer to the present and then the audience and the performer becomes one- this oneness is called ART, and in this oneness bring out joy and ecstasy .

------REWA RISHI

Guneeta Chadda
I realized the importance, the power of oneness with myself. The effortless I would speak without much preparation. I was spontaneous, talking being judgmental & apprehensive. I was to be on stage. The best thing is that Manjul said, “The stage is yours, go, be there!” I felt as if ‘the world is mine’. I can go and do whatever I can. That was for me relevant. Nobody knew what I was going to speak out, talk out, act but all of them were looking intently and waiting for me to take my time.
Manjul has a wonderful way of saying, speaking the content with meaning. He knows what he is saying, keen observer, interactive with all of us. He helped me to effortless on stage and I learnt that when you live the moments, the life, then you can write well, emote well.
In these days Manjul has in his beautiful, easy way told us very fine nuances about performance, acting. The breathing exercise, the ‘throe’ of voice was so relevant. I felt emotionally, physically; mentally very light, very elated.
Manjul asked me to be on stage. I wanted to speak. Some of the thoughts were prepared but then I do not know what happened, but things, thoughts, feelings poured out. There was no stopping. I started as acting, but later on realized I had forgotten that every one is looking at me, listening to me. I was there. I was with myself and spoke those things which I had felt for many years, but spoke out vocally for the first time. By the end I broke out, I cried and the tears were not stopping. Manjul asked one word and I said catharsis. I was not feeling bad for crying, nor ashamed, but felt nice. I went back home. It was late evening and I do not know why despite having a washing machine, I sat to wash out clothes and as I was drenching the water out of the clothes, I felt as if I was draining myself of the declutching of negative thoughts. I repeatedly said ‘Main hoon!’ Guneeta is wonderful and I am Guneeta!












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